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A judge has ruled that four stalking and intimidation civil lawsuits against actor Danny Masterson, filed by Church of Scientology-affiliated plaintiffs who have accused him of sexual assault, must be mediated through the Church of Scientology.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Steven Kleifield ruled on Wednesday that the complaints must be settled by the church because of a religious arbitration agreement for its members, Deadline reports.
Four complaints — filed by Chrissie Carnell Bixler, her husband musician Cedric Bixler-Zavala, and two Jane Does — have been sent back to the Church of Scientology for arbitration. The judge didn’t make a ruling on a fifth complaint, filed by Marie Bobette Riales as she does not have an affiliation with the church.
The complaints claim that both Masterson, 44, and the church orchestrated a campaign of harassment against the individuals after they reported the alleged sexual assaults to law enforcement in an attempt to cover it up.
Masterson was criminally charged in June with raping three women in June, according to a Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office press release. He stands accused of raping a 23-year-old woman in 2001, a 28-year-old woman in April 2003, and another 23-year-old woman in 2003, between October and December. All incidents allegedly took place at the actor's home in the Hollywood Hills. Masterson is scheduled to be arraigned in the criminal case on Wednesday, Page Six reports.
The only woman named in the criminal case is Bixler. In the civil suits filed in August, Bixler claimed that she was repeatedly sexually assaulted in 2001 and 2002. Her husband claimed “agents of the defendants” then harassed them and even poisoned their dogs after they reported the incidents years later, Variety reported. Jane Doe 1 claimed she was harassed through property damage and threats of violence. Jane Doe 2 said she was stalked.
The actor was freed on $3.3 million bail earlier this year. He is facing three counts of rape by force or fear. He could be sentenced to a maximum of 45 years to life in prison if convicted. He has denied the allegations.
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